Here be monsters

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Welcome to the great zoo. Roll up roll up. Are you ready to see the most fearsome beast in the zoo. He’s big, nearly two metres, and towers over us. His face is matted with coarse fur, which continues over his whole body and he communicates in squeaks and grunts. He appears to read, but dint be fooled he has the book upside down and reads from left to right and up to down. Whilst he may be the hairest specimen there are others just as good. Never seen children from the west, or are you interested in fair maidens. Well take your photos here with no respect for privacy. You can ask the children and the blonde ones but you are best to take the hairy one from a distance as he can get aggressive.

Or so it seems to have been. The amount of photos I have had taken of my this trip is staggering. And not just me, as a group we are more desirable than a boy band. We stop for talks from our guide and we get a second group of Chinese people orbiting us. Apparently only 5% of Chinese people see westerners (according to the guide) so this is probably it.

Anyway, I may have digressed with my zoo story.

So anyway… We went to an amazing private garden, called the garden of nets. It was composed of a variety of features, a pond with koi, trees, both bonsai and otherwise, rocks and interesting wooden furniture and relief carvings.

It was beautiful and divided into very well balanced spaces, each one peaceful in its own right. There were a number of tourists there (present company included) and so it was tough to find a spot without people milling around, but even so I do love Chinese and Japanese gardens.

The house used to be a residence, but was ‘acquired’ from the owner by the government in the late 50’s and is now a museum, come garden. Bearing in mind all land is owned by the goverment I hope they were compensated.

We then did the most touristy thing I can think of and got rickshaws through downtown. The city is sometimes called the Venice of the east and whilst it didn’t hold a candle to Venice, it has roads and cars, hence the ability to rickshaw, it was still very pretty, with waterways crisscrossing the area.

The rickshaw men knew how to entertain and kept weaving in and out of each other putting different ones on the lead. We twice got out and took photos, and generally it was fun, even if my rider smiled patiently at my mushing him, though he was probably seething inside.

Then lunch, whoop, more Chinese food. That said the Chinese food here is much better than the takeaways at home. It’s much less oily and feels slightly healthier. Poor Jo was still struggling to eat anything other than the vegetable accompiments to the main meal. Her gut is still playing up, although mine has recovered with some Chinese food it in. I suspect it will last until we get home poor lass. Imodium is our friend in times of need.

After the rickshawing we went out for. Wait for it. More karaoke. Although the centre was uber glitzy, the song selection was poor. Hohum. No backstreets back for some of the chaps. Anders, our norweigan sleeping machine (literally any opportunity) belted out a song or two and Eugene, part of team Germany did hound dog by Elris Pressley (they spelt it that way not me..) aside from that Sydney our 11 year old Canadian lass and Dom, covered themselves in as much glory as karaoke can provide.

After three hours everyone was done but we had the room booked for four. So just Jo and I stayed and belted out some eminen to a rather bemused selection of staff who were watching from outside.

The next morning we got the bullet train. Here I rather owe my father and apology and as I am always happy to admit when I’m wrong (haha) China had a bullet train as well as Japan. I found this out because they nicked it. See Wikipedia (blocked here, as is Facebook, Google and many other sites) got to love the great Chinese fire wall! (For those of who you don’t know China restricts web traffic to a number of sites and basically secures themselves against outside web companies.

After the hotel we explored Shanghai, our last stop before we head home!

Shanghai is a lovely city, with the skyline unlike anything we had seen before. The main viewing area is called the Bund and its seriously like you are looking into next century. As usual we got bothered by locals. So much so that at one point our group had about forty of them around is taking photos. I get snapped where ever we go, often by people trying to be sureptitious.

The shopping area in Shanghai is also vast. We had a spare hour there so everyone went shopping. Well except me of course. I bought a Costa, found a bench and looked through my brain as people boiled and milled around me. It’s quite peaceful really being so far away from everything, and completely disconnected in every way. I like moments like that, and I only get then when I am conpleteky relaxed. Maybe it’s also because I have been unable to access Facebook for any time in the last three weeks as well. I couldn’t just pick up my phone and type (the blog still shares to Facebook even if I can’t see it).

That night we went to an acrobat show. OH. MY. GOD. It was really impressive. I’ve been to cirque de Sola and this was much better. The flexibility of the acrobats and the sheer lack of care about personal injury! They had people thrown thirty foot in the air without safety ropes, six ladies on one push bike, and eight motorcyclists in a small globe. My fists were literally clenched at the thought of them running into each other.

Oh and on a side note I was offered prostitutes three times and have had a further fifteen flyers. I guess I must look the sort of seedy tourist who would need then. I asked Jo but she want keen.

The next day we walked all over Shanghai, doing the most we could with our last day. We had some random food (although not the fried chicken feet in bags we found) and went to a Chinese shopping centre underground, where we had frozen yogurt. It was so Chinese it hurt, with lots of girls wearing tiny tiny, barely there, belt like shorts. To be fair the temperature was 30+ but I was stoic and just wore my jeans and t shirts for three weeks. Mainly because that’s all I have. I did push the boat out. I took two pairs of jeans. My luggage was 7kg, so a bit heavier than normal. My number is boxer’s was also sufficent. I wouldn’t enquire further.

No finally feels better on the last day too (typical) and her extended bout of food poisioning is at an end. I’ve been fine now since before we left Mongolia. Go stomach of steel!

So to the final meal and the flight home.

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